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Amazing Thailand | Music Tech Magazine

Reviewer: Nigel Lord | Rating: 8 out of 10 Back to Amazing Thailand product details

There's a tedious 'worthiness' about much world music which tends to restrict crossover projects to musicians with the right credentials. It seems that you're not allowed to dabble in the music of other cultures unless you can boast complete mastery of one or more instruments from your own.

If this isn't a rule you feel bound by, you may be interested in a range of sample CDs by the Japanese company Discovery Firm; part of its Ethnic Sound Library series. The first, Amazing Thailand, offers a varied cross-section of instruments - percussion, string and wind - together with male and female vocals and a selection of ambient sounds such as streets, airports, cafes and even Royal palaces (wonder if Charles and Camilla would consider... nah, forget it).

The tuning of some of the acoustic instruments may seem slightly chaotic to Western ears and you could use various pitch correction techniques to address this, but you'd almost certainly lose something of the essential character of the instruments if you did. It's far better to create the kind of music into which sounds from this fascinating collection would comfortably fit. That's what real crossover music is about.

The second CD in the series could hardly be more remote from Thailand - either geographically or culturally. As its name suggests, Bom dia Brazil comes from a part of the world where rhythm is very much the backdrop to everyday life.

Billed as a 'collection of Brazilian traditional sounds' the recordings were made entirely in Brazil by local musicians playing traditional instruments - or as traditional as instruments get in Brazil. The fact is, like many other parts of the world (but particularly South America and Africa), a tremendous cross-fertilisation of cultures has taken place over the past few decades both in terms of musical styles and the instruments on which they are played.

Bom dia Brazil includes samples of authentic Brazilian instruments such as the repenique, caxixi, recoreco, surdo and the agogo bells. Alongside them, however, are African talking drums, congas (from Cuba) and Nigerian udu clay drums.

All these instruments - and more - have established themselves within Brazil's dominant samba culture. Not that samba is the only Brazilian rhythm: as this collection reveals, others - such as the baior and maracatu - are, in their own way, just as compelling.

It's easy to descend into the language of the travelogue when discussing ethnic music and, in truth, there's an element of this in these sample collections. But if you're looking for authentic sounds you won't find these CDs easy to improve upon. The range isn't particularly broad, but both have a rawness and honesty to them which is very appealing.

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